Job Search Checklist #4: A Fishing Resume

Aug 6 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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The first thing you’re probably wondering is … what in the world is a fishing resume?

A fishing resume is a static resume that’s the same, no matter who you send it to. A fishing resume doesn’t take into account the specific circumstances of your reader or your target employer.

Because they aren’t personalized and don’t reflect your reader’s needs, fishing resumes aren’t very effective.

Fishing resumes assume that all hiring managers and all employers have the same needs. Even for the exact same job title, hiring managers and companies have unique needs. Even if you’re applying for a job as a janitor, different employers will have different expectations and needs. Fishing resumes demonstrate WIFM (What’s In it For Me), because you don’t know WIFT (What’s In it For Them).

Making matters worse, because you don’t know what a target company or hiring manager needs, all you can do is guess what a random group of employers and hiring managers might need – hoping you’ve guessed correctly for the group’s needs and hoping that the specific hiring manager you’re sending your resume shares the average needs and priorities of that random group. Does this sound like a strategy likely to find success?

Because we were taught how to search for jobs using static fishing resumes, most of us still use the same methods we were taught a while back.

In some situations, a fishing resume is the best you can do. It’s impossible to customize a resume to an employers’ specific needs if you don’t have specific information about that employer. Furthermore, if you don’t have specific information about the hiring manager’s individual needs, it’s impossible to customize your resume for that hiring manager.

When should you use a fishing resume?

When you don’t know much about the reader or employer

Use a fishing resume when you don’t have information about your reader. This includes the following situations:

  • Recruiters: Unless you’re responding to a recruiter’s specific job posting, when you send your resume to a recruiter, you’re applying for any potential job the recruiter might represent … now and in the future.
  • Blind ads: How can you customize your resume for a blind ad? Blind ads hide the employer’s identity, give little information about the job and usually only give broad and general information about the job requirements.
  • Spamming your network: When you decide to send your resume to your entire network, you can’t customize it for a specific job. While I’ve written many articles about how futile spamming your network is and how it even hurts your job search (and reputation), many job seekers are just hell-bent on self destruction. If that’s you, you’ve realized you can’t customize your resume when you bulk email to your whole contact list.
  • Informational interviews: While I’ve written before about how bringing your resume to an informational interview reeks of desperation and is an express train to the oblivion of the HR database, a great many job seekers still want to bring theirs to an informational interview. Despite this warning, if you feel the need to bring your resume to an informational interview, you’ll have a tough time customizing it, since the whole purpose of an informational interview is to discover the information to use in your resume customization.
  • Job fairs: If you find the need to waste your time at job fairs, bring a fishing resume, because you won’t have enough information to customize your resume. Plus, it’s impossible to customize your resume for the hundreds of companies at the job fair.
  • As little as possible: Fishing resumes present your worst chances to move forward in the interview process because they aren’t customized to meet the reader’s or employer’s needs. Use them only when you can’t get information about the employer and hiring manager … when you don’t have any other choice.

As a template for response resumes

Fishing resumes are a great base for further customization. A well prepared fishing resume is a starting point.

Here are the next steps to take your fishing resume template and make it into a resume that gets you recognized as a superior candidate.

  1. Information: You need superior information to be viewed as a superior candidate. You’ll need more than google research or the company’s website can provide – what you’ll find online describes last year’s problems. Gain superior information by meeting with the organization’s employees.
  2. Priorities: Not all information is created equal. Your hiring manger has priorities – when you learn the hiring manager’s priorities, you learn the most important problems. Do you think the hiring manager cares if you’ve already solved the least important problems?
  3. Customization: Not all information on your resume is equally important to all hiring mangers. How could it be? Each employer and each hiring manager has different problems, goals and priorities. Use the information and priorities you’ve learned to customize your resume to the needs of a single reader.

When you send the same resume to employers, over and over again, it becomes impossible to stand out from other candidates who do the same thing.

Is it any wonder that employers treat all candidates as the same, when you portray yourself that way … as a commodity?

Yet, fishing resumes have their place and function. If used as the basis for customization and as little as possible when non-customized, you’ll increase your job search chances of success.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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